NAME's First Reaction to Loss of BetteThe NAME Family Responds to News of Bette's Transition, September, 2021
April 2, 1958 – August 29, 2021With sorrow deeper than ancestral rivers the NAME family recognizes and mourns the passing of our beloved Leader, Sister, Mentor, Friend, Colleague, Other-Mother and Sunshine, Bette Tate-Beaver.
Bette fought recurring battles for survival, from personal attacks, societal traumas, violent white supremacies, to everyday sexism, racism, elitism, dismissals of her brilliance, on and on Bette marched, carrying history forward with each step. Joining NAME in 2003, Bette was appointed Executive Director in 2009, where she continued her legacy of collaborative insistence on modeling the love, grace and dignity of social justice work. Her orientation to leadership was based upon a lifelong recognition that the world needs love-work to heal. Her intense spirit was matched by her brilliance, her wit, her sharp vision, her hilarity and her eternal reminders for us to keep on keeping on.
Bette saw multicultural education as a partial solution to societal oppressions created and sustained through unequal, often harmful school systems. By blending her voice with that of her partner Lewis Diuguid, NAME articulated social justice positions with eloquence and veracity. They spent time in schools, with students and teachers, community members and district leaders, community based organizers, scholars, professors, writers and anyone committed to education as a way forward. Bette and Lewis spent as much time with those already in the struggle as they did convincing those unwilling, afraid or not yet committed to engage. The evolution in the nation’s collective consciousness around equity issues and the growth in NAME as an organization are indicative of the power of their collaborative work.
Bette knew the need to nurture children and young leaders as they develop confidence and knowledge in preparation for their inevitable move into leadership as inherited from historic elders. Bette did whatever was needed. In the spirit of Sankofa, she always worked in service of the mission, building on the foundation of past liberation and revolutionary heroes.
She walked with humility in helping, advocating, pushing educators to teach towards such a future. Derrick Bell, founder of critical race theory, and one of Bette’s mentors and dearest friends, argued that “Humility gives us space to see that we do not have all the answers, even in our so-called areas of expertise; it lets us listen and respond to what is actually happening, being said, being felt.” Bette led with such humility, seeing her purpose as getting others to see––and believe in––their own light.
As Executive Director of the National Association for Multicultural Education, Bette integrated humility with insistence on raw truth. As the movement for Black Lives Matter gained national attention, Bette was on the ground, organizing and uplifting in Ferguson in protests that exploded in the aftermath of the murder of yet another unarmed Black man. Bette was always quick to act––in Oakland, in the Pacific Northwest, in Kansas City, in China, in Cuba––wherever human rights, educational equity and social justice were under attack.
There were no limits to the ways she enacted and embodied the work of NAME. All of NAME became part of her family and all of her family is active in NAME. She brought everyone she touched into the NAME family. Her biological family––her mother, LaFrancine Tate, her aunt Bette Treadwell, her four daughters Angelique Beaver, Aminah Cunningham, Arin-Michal Core, and Mitchele Anderson, and many of her grandchildren––have attended, worked and presented at NAME events. The NAME family stands together with all of Bette’s family to honor and cherish her enormous impact!
Bette is an irreplaceable legacy. She continually created brave spaces that allowed everyone to shine. She simply lived the vision of NAME. Her love and passion for building a more just world will live on in the hearts, minds and actions of the many she touched in NAME and way, way beyond. We carry her with us in our hearts always as we continue to work towards her vision for the future.
The Tate-Beaver family has asked that donations in honor of Bette’s lifelong commitment be gifted to the National Association for Multicultural Education. Donations can be gifted online here or mailed to:
NAME National Office
2021 L Street, Suite 101-245
Washington DC 20036